Monthly Archives: May 2013

Programming Note

I have two more blogs forthcoming in my series and perspective as an USAF brat.

Because they are going to be potentially controversial, an out of an abundance of respect for the men & women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for my first amendment freedoms — I am delaying publication until later in next week.

I hope you understand.

I in no way intend to disrespect the armed forces, then or now, but I’d rather the focus of Memorial Day o. My blog & page reflect a tribute to the honorable service members and not on the less honorable actions of a few.

Thanks,

Krisa.

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If it’s not midnight yet, it’s still Nerdsday. Right?

Yeah I know. I’m late on the funny today.  It’s amazing how much brain power paperwork for an almost-kindergartner takes.  (Case in point, I had to check that last sentence three times for grammar. Dafuq?)

Digression aside- all in one now, your nerdsday memes.

The Whovian Heart-Attack:

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A cute hat for Whedonverse fans – found this on pinterest and the creator is a store on Etsy called GeekAByeBaby.  For a man (or woman) named Jayne.

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And last but not least – Feline Fans of the Force.  (Alliteration – gotta love it!)

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Categories: Just for laughs, Nerdsdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Guest Blogging Today @DeBie Hive – Growing Up Multicultural

Guest Blogging Today @DeBie Hive – Growing Up Multicultural

Kelly is awesome, she’s given me some fantastic advice on navigating the blogosphere and then asked me to guest blog on her page.

This is actually the first of three parts about growing up in the military and the military mindset.  Parts two and three are going to delve more into current events.

Categories: In all seriousness | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

How do you know if you’re buying GMO, Koch, Monsanto, or … ?

It’s a good question.  Various folks have various things they use to make buying decisions.  Some people make purchases on prices, some on brands, and some on ingredients.  But as companies are increasingly merged and food sources are increasingly using GMOs (genetically modified organisms) it’s as increasingly difficult to figure out who your money is going to.

Until now.  Recently, Buycott, an app designed to give you the manufacturer and family tree, as well as political affiliation of the manufacturer launched on iOS and Android platforms for mobile devices. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2013/05/14/new-app-lets-you-boycott-koch-brothers-monsanto-and-more-by-scanning-your-shopping-cart/)

As simple as scanning the bar code of an item at the store or in your cart, you can learn the manufacturer, the parent company, whether it’s perhaps containing GMO, organic, and if the parent company supports or actively avoids supporting various causes.

The app is free, and in its gestational stage.  I used it today on a routine trip to my local grocery store, and probably got more than a few strange looks as to why I was pointing my phone at bar codes.  I checked produce, dry goods, pre-packaged meals, and health & body products.  And I had entirely too much fun.

As an example of the various screens, I’m going to actually start with Angel Soft. A four-pack of TP found in many convenience, drug, and supermarket stores.

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The first screen – “info” is where you line up the bar code in the camera. Pretty simple, and it’s important that you do avoid shadows or glares.  It takes a bit of practice to get the distance right but it’s pretty damned intuitive.  

The second screen shows the “family tree” of the product scanned. Angel Soft is manufactured by Georgia Pacific, a division of Koch Industries.  Koch Industries heavily supported several super-conservative super-PACs essentially using the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling to try and buy elections.  Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of the Koch boys. 

The third screen, “campaigns” shows groups either supporting or combating the company’s practices.  As you’ll see, there are groups in both support of and against the Koch boys, as well as another group called “ALEC” — the American Legislative Exchange Council.  ALEC is known as a pro-business, generally anti-consumer PAC and claims non-partisan 501(c)4 tax exempt status. 

Another example, the average box of Kraft Mac & Cheese:

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To save the family tree, what this scan ends up showing is that one of the campaigns associated with the scan is GMO-labeling.  Currently there’s no standard to labeling GMOs nationally.  There have been efforts on state-by-state levels, but you really don’t know what you’re eating.  It’s a generally known fact that many grain sources are GMO now, and the app doesn’t come out and say “HEY THIS STUFF HAS BEEN ENGINEERED”.  

An organic entry:

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Pretty self-explanatory. It’s organic, doesn’t have any group saying it’s falsely labeled or should cause concern, and hey, looks like it’s not some huge corporate clearing house for tofu.

Now, this app, Buycott, is in its gestational phase.  It doesn’t have everything in its database yet, and to that end it allows users to contribute where they can (ie, store brands).

Case in point, Publix Greenwise Organic Carrots.  

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Adding to the database is pretty intuitive as well. Just enter the info, click submit, voila. 

It doesn’t yet (it seems) scan loose produce and QR codes.  I tried five different conventionally grown and two different organic PLU veggies and got this:

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The PLU — produce lookup number — is fairly universal, as are the codes assigned to various types.  For example, 4011 is a conventional banana. 94011 is an organically grown banana, and a banana tagged 84011 is a GMO fruit.  The number structure tends to hold true across the board, with conventionally grown fruits and veggies in the 3xxx or 4xxx category. Organics add a 9 at the front, engineered add an 8. Pretty simple, even better if you grow your own. For more info on PLU designations, check out:  http://www.nutritiousamerica.com/blog/food-labeling-how-to-identify-organic-conventional-and-genetically-modified-produce

 

A user review:  As I said, it’s in its gestational phase.  By the year’s end I’ll wager it will be one of the most downloaded apps on both iOS and Android platform, and I’m hoping upgrades will be forthcoming.  If you don’t know who makes what products you’re buying, it’s a good tool to help you stay away from companies you have reservations about.  The campaigns tab also helps inform consumers — for example the aspirin BC Powder, is part of the Glaxo-Smith-Kline family.  Not only did it pull all its funding from the ALEC PAC, but the campaign tab also shows the company is vegan and doesn’t test its products on animals.  I’ve used BC powder for years to combat pop up headaches and had no idea.  By the same token, I knew Georgia Pacific was a Koch Industries subsidiary.  Another future improvement could well be tagging products as GMO, but I think the blowback from legal challenges by manufacturers could be tricky.

I haven’t tested this on anything but groceries yet, but I imagine you could scan anything with a barcode — clothing, cosmetics, home improvement products, etc. 

 

Categories: In all seriousness | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

3D printing uses other than circumventing gun regulations …

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Saw this yesterday via Mashable (http://mashable.com/2013/05/15/3d-printed-star-wars-stormtrooper/). Living near the rats nest it’s pretty neat as a nerd when they do the summer Star Wars fest.

They’ve had similar products at Disney where you can design your own composite plastic souvenir.

But my little geeky brain went two steps beyond making yourself a storm trooper figurine. See, I know some folks who cosplay … Can you imagine 3D printing your own armor? Or making yourself C-3PO? Creating your kid an R2 unit?

The possibilities are endless. The crafter in me is now thinking of all the awesome embellishments that could be made.

Yeah, I know the printers aren’t cheap. You’d have to sell hat you make to break even a then there are trademark and copyright protections to consider.

But hot damn, think of all the fun it could be…

Categories: Just for laughs, Nerdsdays | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An entirely different kind of bible thumping

Sometimes Orlando’s local news picks up funny stories from elsewhere. Today I felt this needed sharing:

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/woman-uses-bible-as-a-weapon/-/1637132/20162464/-/13qi6xx/-/index.html

Categories: Just for laughs | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Oh Obama, how can I not shake my head at your administration now …

If you’ve read my blogs thus far – you’re probably thinking I’m some dyed-in-the-wool bleeding heart liberal.  I went to a liberal arts college, have a degree in Journalism and Political Science, started a MS in International Politics with a concentration in Europe and the Middle East.  You probably think I bleed blue and my favorite political animal is a donkey.

You’d be wrong.

I’m actually a registered Republican, and have been all my adult life.  I’m the child of a military family, and traditionally the GOP has been stronger in those values and valuing the military and their dependents as well as the communities they represent.

Lately, however, I’ve been tempted to just go “independent”.  The repeated efforts of the congress to do nothing but try and impeach the president, the birthers, and the far-right nuts have made me wonder why these anti-government individuals have gotten into government jobs at all.

Benghazi – the entire outrage and weeks of wasted hearings on talking points is making the entire nation just flat our exhausted. Where was the concern when the embassy in Kenya was attacked? What about the other 40+ violent incidents against diplomats globally during the Bush II administration?  Nobody politicized those to this level. 

Increasingly it seems like the GOP was becoming the party of satire, meme central.  “The opposite of pro is con, therefore the opposite of progress is congress.”

And then the proverbial poo hit the fan.  A double-whammy of WTF that makes even the most liberal of news watchers say “holy shit what was that?”

That the president is on national television, in a press briefing, saying “well I learned of it from press reports” does nothing but undermine his appearance as someone capable of leading.  Are you that out of the loop? Really?  Don’t you have cabinet members and advisers who are supposed to tell you what the hell is going on in the country before you read it in the morning paper?

The ultra-right needed no help with conspiracy theories, so the IRS and the Justice Department gave them some to really sink their teeth into.

I’ll start first with the one that hits closest to home.  I used to be a news reporter, and AP stringer for elections coverage.  I worked in the community surrounding the largest military base/complex in the nation, if not world.  I was raised on military bases and know the true meaning of military security, top secret, eyes only, and the like. 

So my entire life has been a balancing act, between my curiosity as an American and a journalist, and the child of a military man who knows the guys whose lives are on the line.  The husband of one of my high school’s English teachers died in the Gulf War, on a C-130 that went missing.  I was part of the press corps at 17 when VP Quayle came.  (And lemme tell you, the secret service is good at vetting!)  Years later when the Khobar Towers complex was bombed by terrorists in Saudi Arabia, the majority of the victims were at the base I lived near. Friends of mine lost co-workers and buddies.  I stood between Wolf Blitzter and the British guy from that old news magazine A Current Affair when Clinton came to the memorial.

Balancing security interests versus the public’s right to know is difficult.  But the reason the first amendment is the FIRST amendment is that the right to speak, and know, is the most important right and responsibility of the American citizenry and press to keep tyrants from running amok in our government.  Guns are the second resort, not the primary one as the NRA would have folks believe, to words and knowledge, in keeping our nation free.

So last year, when the AP reported information from confidential sources, presumably within the CIA, who told them a plot to bomb the US as an anniversary retaliation for Bin Laden’s death, in my eyes, it was a good thing.  We know that people are trying to keep 9/11 from happening again. Agencies are talking to each other, and the bad guys are getting stopped.

As the story is unfolding, it turns out multiple AP reporters and editors, at multiple locations, had their phones tapped and checked in an effort to find the whistleblowers. In my opinion that’s a gross overreach of the Justice Department’s purview in the guise of “national security.”

That said, it’s also becoming apparent that the mole hunt was at the urging of the same neo-con war hawks who are decrying the Justice Department actions.  When it was learned of the leak a year ago, they demanded Obama’s administration go after the leaks because it was a national security threat.  Eric Holder, the attorney general, recused himself and assigned special prosecutors to do just what the GOP-controlled house demanded … to find the source of the leak. 

And now that it’s become public just how far the special prosecutors went, without supervision, the same politicos are calling for Holder’s head. 

Here’s what chaps my ass – when Valerie Plame was outed by Scooter Libbey, Dick Cheney’s right-hand-man, there was no ruckus like this from the right.  In fact they tried to keep an investigation of the leak from happening.  It’s these same guys who demanded Obama’s administration find the leak though and independent investigation, and the same guys purporting outrage that they actually did.

You cannot have it both ways.

Case in point, the Watergate era.   The mother of all scandals, where the leak on the Pentagon papers ultimately jailed more than 40 and brought down an administration.  Watergate was bigger and worse on so many levels.  Not only was it a leak hunt and wire tapping issue, but it additionally involved the implicit knowledge and direction of then-President Nixon, burglaries, and coverups of all involved.  Just because someone shared the real costs of Vietnam with the NYT, because they felt the American people had the right to know.

This is why there are reporter shield laws, this is why there are whistle-blower laws. And at the same time, the politicians calling for impeachment and Eric Holder’s head because they resorted to targeting the press to find the leak — are the same congressional members who stripped the press of protections. 

Bear with the first couple minutes of Maddow’s A-block from last night, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/#51885608.

It explains how the Pentagon Papers tie into the AP and DoJ issues going on right now, and how some politicians are trying to have their cake and eat it too.  And her fishing story’s kinda neat as well.

This too goes a bit to the IRS debacle. 

Sometime ago, PACs figured out they could register as non-profit corporations and take advantage of 501c status to get around reporting donors and amounts, using tax code that they’re organizations that focus on social welfare.  The tax laws weren’t written that way, and when Citizens United was decided by the Supreme Court in 2010, the floodgates were opened. Thousands of PACS registered as non-profit, social welfare groups to hide who their actual funding was.  

Seems in Cincinnati’s IRS branch, a couple employees of the IRS decided that groups identifying themselves as anything with “Patriot” or “Tea Party” applying for the charity non-profit designation got ridiculous extra scrutiny. 

What tweaks me about this issue isn’t that the Tea Party or Patriot PACs received extra attention, it’s that EVERYONE should have.  Any group with a political motivation and affiliation trying to pass itself off as a charity non-profit focused on social welfare should get scrutinized.  Maybe not quite to the level that these groups were, but it’s such an obvious and glaring affront to real social welfare oriented charities PACs as a whole should be disallowed a 501c designation. Period.  

And it’s not as if this is the first time in history political forces have tried to use the tax arm of the government to influence outcomes.  As recently in 2008, the IRS went the other way and tried to remove the NAACP’s designation as a 501c because of its political endorsements.  Nevermind all the other social work the organization does, but remove the tax status and donor anonymity because they also have some political input.  The groups targeted by the IRS this time around, are the exact opposite – agencies formed primarily for political work and doing the minimal in social welfare to get the designation. 

What makes me chuckle is my senator, Marco Rubio, calling for the IRS director’s resignation.  Yeah, the problem with that, is congress hasn’t approved the appointment yet, so there’s no director.  And the guy in charge during the IRS mess in Cincinnati – was a GWBush appointee who quit last year.  Good job slick. Way to make Florida, yet again, the place where political reason comes to die.

That said, hopefully heads will roll.  I think Eric Holder was on thin ice after the F&F mess last year.  Clearly he’s lost control of the DoJ.  

And as likable a guy as Jay Carney is – the press office at the white house is as astute at media handling as a kindergartner at show & tell.  

Obama, dammit, get pro-active.  Quit reacting to all the crap going on behind your back.  Demand your people tell you what is going on before it happens and get out ahead of it.  It will keep the transparency you promised and put the crazies back in the cage.

Categories: In all seriousness | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Getting Back to Me

Getting Back to Me

There are a dozen or so topics, some current events and some just general life reflections, bouncing around in my ADD-addled brain. Expect some rants on the Abercrombie clown, the AP wiretapping, the IRS mess, Kermit “the monster” Gosnell, and a couple other things like turning 40 and the justice system to start flooding the page in the next couple days.

I’m also going to pick up DeBie Hive’s music challenge A-to-Z (instead of bands, going to use song titles to keep the lists manageable) and I will (belatedly) finish the A-to-Z challenge from April. Even if it kills me.

Better late than never, eh?

While I try to form them into cohesive thoughts worthy of sharing, I have kicked back a little creativity with my old Olympus.

These were taken in the atrium at the Gaylord Palms resort in Kissimmee when I was there for a paper arts & crafting trade show earlier this month. I just got around to yanking them out of RAW format. I’ve photographed the venue several times, but these orange lilies and lantana just screamed “shoot me.” So I did.

Categories: In all seriousness | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Molesting the English Language

Invented a new phrase today … I think. While talking about a road expanded about ten years ago, I said “yeah, this usta didn’t come this far.”

Yes, “usta didn’t.” Grammar and spelling nazi, editor at large. Came up with usta didn’t.

I plead the fifth (dose of DayQuil) and exhaustion from an annual crafting expo (creative nerd overload).

And besides – if usta could worked for Jeff Foxworthy, why can’t usta didn’t work for me?

Categories: Just for laughs | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Truth in Art

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This came across my Facebook feed today. The concept so perfectly fits my reality of late.

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